Welcome to the town of Derry, Maine, where you and your family can live carefree and, a short time later, kid-free as some terrifying entity known only as “It” is rounding up kids, ripping their arms off, and eating their faces — you know, a family movie! However, when a group of outcast kids known as The Losers Club band together, they decide to face It down and destroy the menace once and for all until the sequel.
Okay, so I made fun of it earlier, but the It miniseries is a bit of a classic. Sure, it hasn’t aged well, but it’s got two things going for it… one is Tim Curry who is iconic as Pennywise the Dancing Clown and the other is that, for a miniseries broadcast on network television, it was blessed with an almost supernaturally amazing cast of kid actors. Yes, Part II was, for the most part, garbage, but the first half was and is a classic no matter how corny age has made it. This new It movie has big clown-shoes to fill in order to overcome that tsunami of nostalgic feels.
And you know what? It totally does by avoiding the mistakes of remakes in the past… it does its own thing, it doesn’t get bogged down in references to the original (though, I did spot that classic Pennywise doll, you sneaky little turds), and it ups its sophistication and shine. This, my friends, is why remakes should happen… it improves on the original, yet does something all its own.
Bill Skarsgård, for example, is not Tim Curry. Only Tim Curry is Tim Curry and Skarsgård doesn’t even attempt to be Tim Curry which is a sage move. Instead, the Bill Skarsgård Pennywise is a completely different animal both in appearance and action… there’s something so off-putting and alien about him from the way he talks to the way he moves, that just makes you uncomfortable while he’s on screen. This Pennywise isn’t here to be a ham or crack jokes, he’s here to eat your face and the face of your children… he’s a macabre puppet master in the guise of a buffoon and it is surprisingly effective given that Tim Curry’s Pennywise was, as I’ve said before, iconic.
The miniseries had a phenomenally talented cast of kids and this new movie appears to have captured lightning in a bottle again. These kid actors are amazing and handle the mature subject matter brilliantly. Not a one of them — not even Richie — was overly annoying or fake, as a matter of fact, I was pretty amazed at how genuine the conversations between the kids were. It just made me like them more and upped my interest in seeing them not be dead.
I have to admit it, folks, as far as It goes, I have a huge nostalgia boner for the old miniseries, but this new film is a hell of a new take on it. It’s disturbing, well-acted, it’s got some neat scares, I liked the cast, and Bill Skarsgård does what many considered impossible… be a Pennywise every bit as memorable as Tim Curry, even if it’s for different reasons. If I had one complaint about the movie it’s that I found the score, although perfectly adequate for the movie, a bit overpowering… it reminded me of one of those 1940’s Disney movies where the orchestra never shuts up.
Still, if you ever wanted to make a case for the remake, you might as well add It to your arguments. It’s everything a remake should be… polished, improved, and different enough as to not detract from the original. I can’t wait for Chapter 2 because, even if they fudge that one up royally, it will still be better than the miniseries’ second chapter.